• Cancer,  death,  Grief,  life

    Why May is Grey

    May is Brain Cancer Awareness Month. It’s probably also some other awareness month and there is probably a Donut Day or something wonderfully absurd in it’s mix. These things are arbitrary. May is no more or less affected by Brain Cancer than November, but somebody wanted it to get attention so they picked this month. I wonder why. May is an otherwise beautiful month – it’s the month of blooming flowers and occasional rainstorms. May brings the end of winter, the beginning of tank top season. May means visits to the greenhouse, the sound of dirt scraping a metal shovel as you plant hope in the form of seeds or…

  • Birth,  Cancer,  death,  Grief,  life,  Love,  Worship

    And Own that Love is Heaven

    This time last year we knew. Another tumor had presented and Mom’s doctor just told us that the treatment wasn’t working. Mom realized without trying to that she would not be with us much longer and she made peace with it, mostly. She was ready for her pain to end, she was ready to be done fighting, she was ready to “be with Jesus.” She wasn’t ready to say goodbye; really, for us to mourn her. She didn’t want to be the cause of our grief. So as she laid down to get through another headache and imagined at any point she may not wake up, she made us promise her that this…

  • Cancer,  Family,  Grief,  life,  Love

    The Women

    Their voices are like echoes – one speaks and you wonder which body it belongs to. Their humor coordinates and though each has a slightly different take on the world, they understand each other and laughter comes easy. I was born into a family run mostly by women; strong, sweet, funny, brilliant women. My great grandmother, Betty, had one gorgeous, blue-eyed beauty she called Carole during World War II and then didn’t have any others for almost 20 years. Carole gave birth to her daughter Tracey just a couple years after Betty gave birth to Beth and Becky. And then 25 years later Tracey had me. In and out of crises, The Women get…

  • Cancer,  death,  Grief,  life

    My Dirty (water) Thirty

    For 29 years, February 4 started with breakfast in bed, a candle on pancakes, a few cards and presents, and a softly sung “Happy Birthday.” When I moved away Mom sent a box full of streamers and pancake mix to my new husband with careful instructions. She showed up in my apartment bedroom on my 23rd birthday when I lived alone so that I didn’t wake up by myself. My parents had balloons delivered to my elementary desk so I stood out all day. My dad took me out of school every year to have lunch at Marie Callender’s (he always offered to take me anywhere, it just didn’t feel…

  • Cancer,  death,  Family,  God,  Grief,  Worship

    When Those Songs Play

    There is a station on my Pandora account – I named it “My Nest” – which I have thumbed up and thumbed down to perfection. Just about every song is deeply meaningful to me because this station has played through 2 unique pregnancies and their furiously lovely births, a dying dog, 3 moving days, the cancer news from California, all the breath-holding and fervent praying, and now it plays over my mourning. When my mom had surgery to remove the tumor we still thought could be some sort of sinus infection, the music and lyrics matched every atom of my limbo. Peace and anxiety swirled around and up to a God…

  • Cancer,  death,  Family,  Grief,  life,  Love

    The Best Birthday Party

    A birthday party for a three year old is usually not thrown in between hospice visits and medication reviews. Celebrating birth seems almost vulgar around the dying. But he has given up a lot without his consent and I couldn’t stand the thought of his giving this up, too. Birthdays are a big deal for us; we start talking about them months in advance when we realize that we are “two and a half” years old. He cycled through several themes and set his heart on a Paw Patrol party. He’d tuck his chin and wrinkle his nose and his sweet little mouth curled into a smile when he talked about Chase decorations…

  • Cancer,  Grief,  life

    O2 and Breaking Bonds

    We visited my husband’s cousin a couple weeks ago – an amazing woman with whom we spend far too little time – and her eldest son who is currently brainiac-ing it up at Berkeley. I asked him a question about atoms and that afforded me a private chemistry lesson; he’s a great teacher! Briefly, as a side, he remarked about O2 (“Everyone knows O2.” Ha. You’re cute.) We breathe in a whole concoction of chemicals, but oxygen is the one which reacts in our bodies and feeds our blood cells and allows us to function. And it is bonded. Oxygen – breathable, life-giving, necessary oxygen (O2) comes in pairs. Each Oxygen…

  • Cancer,  life,  Motherhood

    And there are monsters

    Little ones, You are unaware, yet so aware. You are navigating with us waters we have been thrust into. We did not ask for this. But you are full of grace and second chances and patience and expression. You rail against things you don’t understand (darlings, I don’t understand them either), but then you move on. And move back. And it’s lovely and hard and I admire you. I want you to know that life is beautiful. That people can be… Supernatural. They can love like heroes – they can save lives and find value and beat death. I want you to know that there are things here worth pursuing.…

  • Cancer,  Family,  Home,  Love

    The Cabin

    For me, Home smelled like Raccoon Court – oak trees on a lake, mossy rocks and too many leaves. The concrete cracked over wild earth reminding us she is far from contained and that she did the long-suffering despite our groans come summer when the weeds needed pulling. We tucked our stories into this old, tiny cabin surrounded by deer and birds and these round petaled flowers in tall grass. Does it sound a little magical? Good. My childhood saw magic. Sometimes we go back. My brother and I drive down the familiar roads and we can’t wait to breathe that air. We’ve taken friends and spouses, we’ve gone alone, but…